This is a guest post from Sheryl (a.k.a Cdn Gwen) in Ontario, who is 40 years old with a grown daughter, and is trying to rebuild her retirement dream just 20 years too late for early retirement.
I had to take a short hiatus because my father was having some health issues, and it was and still is more important to me to be there for him and my mother than to spend my time and energy writing (although I had a few ideas about money, health, happiness and what really matters during this time). That being said, he is feeling better and my parents can go back to their self sufficient lives, and I can go back to what I consider normal.
Looking back over the last (almost) two months, I did manage to stay on track with my spending plan, as well as experimenting with some new things.
One big thing for me was an agreement between my boyfriend and I that while we are cleaning up our respective finances, we are not exchanging gifts. Christmas was the first hard one, I have been scaling back on present buying over the past several years, but this was the first time I didn’t buy for my significant other, and he did not buy for me in return. I will admit, it felt like something was missing.
The next gift buying time was Valentine’s Day, and we agreed not to exchange anything (even greeting cards seem so overpriced for what they are). We did plan to be together. Luckily, a local grocery store has our one of our favorite foods (sushi) on sale every Tuesday, so we planned an evening in, enjoyed a dinner we didn’t have to cook (I dislike going out for dinner on Valentines Day as everywhere is too busy that night), watched a movie we borrowed from my daughter, and didn’t miss the trading of material goods at all. Dessert (chocolate covered strawberries) included, the day cost us less than $20, but had full satisfaction. In retrospect, I’m thinking that planning these times and making them special by creating other traditions to replace the gifting (which we didn’t do at Christmas), is key to getting away from purchasing stuff that is not needed without feeling deprived. I’ll see what happens on the next occasion (his birthday).
Another “new” thing, I have never been one to get involved in teams or sports, and I have recently discovered that I do have a strong competitive streak in me. We are having contest at work (just like the weight loss reality show on TV) to see who can lose the highest % of body weight in three months. It cost me $50 to enter, winner take all. Up until this week, I’ve been winning, but being knocked into 2nd place has motivated me more than I ever thought it would. I’m finding that if I can apply the “challenge” mentality to other aspects in my life, I’m getting much better results as well.
Also new, is writing knowing that my identity is out there due to the recent CBC show. When I started guest writing, I wasn’t sure how much personal information I was going to disclose, and I felt by using a pen name I could openly reveal information that I might not otherwise. As I have become more experienced in posting, I realize I don’t have to expose details about my finances in order to make my point, I can write within my comfort zone and share only what I want to.
Final new thing? I’ve been using budgeting software to track income and expenditures in a way that I had only hoped was possible, but the details on that will have to be in another post.